by David Roussève/REALITY

Halfway to Dawn by Rose Eichenbaum, Photo by Rose Eichenbaum, From the collection of: David Roussève/REALITY
About Halfway to Dawn
Written/choreographed by Roussève and performed by the wildly diverse nine-member company REALITY, "Halfway to Dawn" is an evening-length work weaving dance, music, sound, video and text to uncover the deeper ‘truths’ of gay, African American jazz composer Billy Strayhorn’s life while creating a dialogue on urgent social issues of our own. Set to a score of Strayhorn and Duke Ellington songs from raise-the-roof jazz anthems to emotion-laden ballads, "Halfway to Dawn" intersects fact, conjecture, comment, abstraction and fantasy to create an abstract portrait of Ellington’s most important though largely unknown collaborator.
Samantha Mohr in Halfway to Dawn by Ian Douglas, Photo by Ian Douglas, Video art by Cari Ann Shim Sham*, From the collection of: David Roussève/REALITY

“’Halfway to Dawn’—a favorite phrase of Strayhorn’s—is an important work of art, quite moving at times, wonderfully danced and a must-see for anyone interested in black history, American jazz, homophobia and two important cultural icons of the twentieth century–one of them world-renowned, the other almost a mystery to the public.”
- Times Quotidian 10/15/18

Billy Strayhorn by Chicago Tribute, From the collection of: David Roussève/REALITY
Billy Strayhorn
Though instrumental to the creation of the most important body of work in American music history, Strayhorn (1915-1967) remains largely unknown.  As Duke Ellington’s main arranger/writing partner, he wrote or co-wrote signatures like “A Train," “Satin Doll," and “Lush Life."  But gay, out, and living in Harlem in the 1940s-60s, Strayhorn chose to lead a remarkably private life, allowing Ellington to take the spotlight and much of the credit for their joint oeuvre.
Leanne Iacovetta Poirier in Halfway to Dawn by Ian Douglas, Photo by Ian Douglas, From the collection of: David Roussève/REALITY
Issues of fame, privacy, and creative authorship have never been more resonant than now, when popular culture has redefined fame - not art - as the goal itself, when social media over-sharing has obliterated privacy, and when digital platforms have further blurred the line between composing and arranging.  Committed civil rights worker, Strayhorn is a supreme example of artist as activist.  Informed by these undercurrents, "Halfway to Dawn" creates an abstract portrait by layering video-projected text conveying the biographical facts of Strayhorn’s life, projected abstract video art exploring the emotional undercurrents of his journey, and expressionistic physical theater expanding the political urgency of his narrative into our own lives.  Moveable screens are surfaces for the projection of historical footage that grounds the work in the Strayhorn era, even while lighting design moves the piece fluidly between past, present, and fantasy. 
Photo from Halfway to Dawn by Ian Douglas, Photo by Ian Douglas, From the collection of: David Roussève/REALITY

The core of "Halfway" is Strayhorn’s music as interpreted through a dynamic dance vocabulary melding jazz, modern/postmodern, and social dance that is new to Roussève’s choreography. A score including recordings from the ‘40s-‘50s of Strayhorn songs allows the famously private artist to emerge and “speak for himself” through his music. The songs are immersed within a larger sound design that - like the video element - references historical material, but ultimately creates a contemporary, abstract, and wholly original digital tapestry.

Photo from Halfway to Dawn by Ian Douglas, Photo by Ian Douglas, From the collection of: David Roussève/REALITY
Photo from Halfway to Dawn by Ian Douglas, Photo by Ian Douglas, From the collection of: David Roussève/REALITY
Collaborators
Halfway to Dawn by Rose Eichenbaum, Photo by Rose Eichenbaum, From the collection of: David Roussève/REALITY

Lighting Design by Chris Kuhl

REALITY in Halfway to Dawn by Ian Douglas, Photo by Ian Douglas, From the collection of: David Roussève/REALITY

Video Art by Cari Ann Shim Sham*

Halfway to Dawn by Rose Eichenbaum, Photo by Rose Eichenbaum, Featuring (from front to back) Kevin Le, Leanne Iacovetta Poirier, Jasmine Jawato and Bernard Brown, From the collection of: David Roussève/REALITY

Sound Design by d. Sabela grimes

Photo from Halfway to Dawn by Ian Douglas, Photo by Ian Douglas, Featuring Kevin Le (left) and Kevin Williamson (center)., From the collection of: David Roussève/REALITY

Costumes by Leah Piehl

Photo from Halfway to Dawn by Ian Douglas, Photo by Ian Douglas, From the collection of: David Roussève/REALITY

Dramaturgy by L. MSP Burns

Photo from Halfway to Dawn by Ian Douglas, Photo by Ian Douglas, REALITY company members perform "Blood Count" in Halfway to Dawn., From the collection of: David Roussève/REALITY
Performers
The cast of "Halfway to Dawn" includes Bernard Brown, Raymond Ejiofor, Dezaré Foster, Jasmine Jawato, Kevin Le, Julio Medina, Samantha Mohr, Leanne Iacovetta Poirier and Kevin Williamson.
Company members in Halfway to Dawn by Rose Eichenbaum, Photo by Rose Eichenbaum, From the collection of: David Roussève/REALITY

“…a fascinating performance art dance piece about Billy Strayhorn… With scenic projections and startling choreography this piece throws you into Strayhorn’s world.”
- Culture Critique 10/9/18

Halfway to Dawn by Rose Eichenbaum, Photo by Rose Eichenbaum, Featuring Jasmine Jawato, Leanne Iacovetta Poirier and Kevin Williamson, From the collection of: David Roussève/REALITY

"Halfway to Dawn" premiered in October 2018 at REDCAT in Los Angeles and had its East Coast premiere as part of BAM's Next Wave Festival December 5-8, 2018.

Come see "Halfway to Dawn" in a city near you!

Future touring includes:
~ February 1-2, 2019 at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater in Pittsburgh, PA
~ March 2, 2019 with NC State LIVE in Raleigh, NC
~ March 30, 2019 at the Moss Arts Center at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, VA
~ April 5-7, 2019 at the Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans in New Orleans, LA
~ April 13, 2019 at Northrop Auditorium, University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, MN
~ July 3-7, 2019 at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival 2019 in Becket, MA

Credits: Story

Halfway to Dawn was made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


Halfway to Dawn is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation Fund Project co-commissioned by REDCAT in partnership with ARTPower at UC San Diego, Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans, the Kelly Strayhorn Theater and NPN.  The Creation Fund is supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts (a federal agency).  For more information: www.npnweb.org.


Halfway to Dawn was created with the generous support of UCLA Chancellor’s office research funds.


Halfway to Dawn was created in part during a development residency at the Pillow Lab at Jacob’s Pillow Dance, technical residencies at NC State LIVE, REDCAT and Kaufman Hall UCLA and a video art residency at NYU Tisch Dance.


Fiscal sponsorship provided by Foundation for Independent Artists, Inc. a non-profit organization administered by Pentacle (DanceWorks, Inc.). Pentacle is a non-profit management support organization for the performing arts. www.pentacle.org


For booking information, contact Sophie Myrtil-McCourty, Lotus Arts Management. Tel: 347-721-8724; email: sophie@lotusartsmgmt.com website: www.lotusartsmgmt.com

For more information on the company or to join our mailing list visit <www.davidrousseve.com>. Follow the company on Instagram @davidroussevereality and David Roussève @davidrousseve.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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